Twenty years ago this fall I hired a woman who changed my life. We met when she was working at an ad agency and needed my assistance with an urgent project. Her regular vendor had failed miserably and she was desperately trying to make a deadline and keep her job. I bailed her out but a year later she got laid off when the agency downsized. She called me up and offered to work for free just to prove herself. I hate to admit it but I’m kind of a sucker for the damsel in distress approach so I, of course, agreed. It was the best decision I ever made.
Her name was Linda Roberts but since then she got married and her name is now Linda May. She just signed up to follow my blog and the memories came flooding back to me. If there was ever a time when I turned chance into good fortune, Linda was it. She had only been with me for a couple of weeks when I got a call from a prospective client and when I went out to interview for the account it was clear to me that Linda was just who I needed for that kind of work. I went back to the office and made her an offer before I told her about the client. (I may be a sucker but I’m not stupid.) She agreed and we won the account. Over the next five years we worked together on the single largest project my company had ever done. It was the most complicated and challenging design and production job either one of us had ever seen but it paid really well, probably close to a million dollars from start to finish. Without Linda, it would have been impossible.
The best part of working with Linda was the friendship that grew with each new challenge. For the most part, it was just Linda and I who managed the account and worked with the buyer, Cathy Bird, and between the three of us we developed a working relationship that was unlike anything I’ve ever had. We were all in over our heads but the three of us came to depend on each for moral support and laughs. Whenever things got bad we all threatened to run away and join the circus together, just to break the tension. The hours we spent together were always filled with humor and encouragement because we each had personal struggles to deal with as well as the never-ending workload. Linda left me for another opportunity in 2001 but we remained friends and it’s good to know we still are, even though we don’t see each other very often anymore.
I guess it was just an early reminder of why Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday. I will always be thankful that God saw fit to bring Linda and I and Cathy together for that once-in-a-lifetime project. It was a career defining moment for all three of us and I wouldn’t trade our difficulties for anything easier. It’s pretty clear to me now that adversity is the catalyst that brings people together in lifelong friendships. We only had each other to depend on and the whole project was too overwhelming for any one person to handle, but by joining forces we accomplished a monumental amount of work with award winning results. (In case you’re wondering what it was, you just need to go the hardware store and look for the Bayer Advanced Lawn and Garden products line.) We three were primarily responsible for getting the packaging designs done so it could hit the market in the spring of 2000.
I will always be thankful for that project and the two women who partnered with me to make it happen.What are the odds that the three of us would all converge at the same point in time and have just the right mix of talents required to accomplish that impossible goal? The lesson for all of us is this; you have to take chances to have good fortune. I took a chance on Linda, Cathy Bird took a chance on me and Linda made it all come together with her tenacity and incredible work ethic. Frankly, even after twenty years, if she called me and said that she and Cathy were joining the circus I would probably go with them just for fun. What a great memory to have on this Thanksgiving. Thanks again Linda, you’re one of a kind! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
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